The Neff House & the Betz Mystery Sphere
Take a 360-degree look inside and around the abandoned Neff House located on Fort George Island in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Explore this 1920’s mansion with the 19 panoramic images in the virtual tour below.
About the Neff House and Betz Mystery Sphere
The Neff House and The Betz Mystery Sphere is a unique story about 2 families, 1 house, and many strange occurrences leaving a Florida mansion abandoned in the woods leaving much to the imagination.
Located on Fort George Island near the Kingsley Plantation, this abandoned Florida home was set to be the winter home of the Neff family. Nettleton Neff hired famed Jacksonville architect Mellon Greely to build his family a winter mansion in 1927. Greely called the Neff house his “most unique” design. Individual tragedy struck the Neff family before the completion of the house.
Nettleton’s wife Katherine died in a mysterious fire that struck the family’s summer home in Michigan. 2 years later, Nettleton’s son William died by apparent suicide by hanging himself from an apple tree. 3 years after William’s death, Nettleton himself committed suicide by shooting himself in the right temple.
The house itself was abandoned in Jacksonville for many years when Kenneth Merrill purchased the home for his family. In 1967, the Merrill’s sold the home to the Betz family.
The Betz family was the first to use the home as a full-time residence. In late March, Antoine (Father) and Gerri (Mother) went out to explore a brush fire with their 21-year-old son, Terry. In their search, Terry stumbled across a 22-pound steel sphere with a small triangle imprinted on its surface. Strange things began to happen after the Betz family brought the sphere home with them.
After setting the ball on the table, it seemed to “navigate” its way about, stopping and changing directions without any help. In October 1975, Sandy Strickland wrote in The Jacksonville Journal that the Betzes had begun to hear “organ music in the seven-level, 21-room mansion, but no organ was found in the house.” She reported “mysterious phone calls” and inexplicable “voices and banging doors.” Then “glass from closed cupboards would sometimes crash onto the floor.”
The Betz family wanted to find answers to what the metal sphere actually was. The family let Carl Wilson, from the Omega Minus One Institute in Baton Rouge examine the sphere. He found that the sphere had a magnetic field and was transmitting a radio signal. Another professor, Dr. James Harder, determined that the shell was made of an iron-chromium alloy and that x-rays showed that the center of the ball was made of uranium.
The United States Navy was asked to examine it by Mrs. Betz. After performing a metallurgy test and an x-ray, they found that the sphere was made of stainless steel, which meant it was manmade.
The sphere has never been seen since. There are many theories as to who currently has the sphere, but no one knows for sure. The Betz family moved out of the Neff house in 1985, and the Florida Park Services bought the house in 1989 to use as office space for Park staff and residents. Currently the home sits abandoned in the woods waiting for the next urban explorer to find.
You might also find this virtual tour of the abandoned Apalachicola River Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. Down the street from the Neff House is the Kingsley Plantation that you might find fascinating as well or even the Huston House at Butler Plantation in Georgia.
Here is an 8K 360VR video around the abandoned Florida property
Virtually urban explore more residential locations. Do you have 360-degree panoramic images captured in an abandoned location? Send your images to Abandonedin360@gmail.com. If you choose to go out and do some urban exploring in your town, here are some safety tips before you head out on your Urbex adventure.